Wednesday, September 22, 2010

True Blood: When Philosophy and Pop Culture Collide

As an avid fan of the show True Blood, this article caught my attention. I appreciate Thought Catalog's articles in general for their ability to blend pop culture and academics, something it seems people are often afraid to do. While I'm no expert on pop culture or television shows, (who has time to watch?) I do allow myself a few guilty pleasures, True Blood being one of them. While some of the philosophy connections seem a little farfetched, it's nonetheless interesting to consider them. As a student of writing and literature, and someone who hopes to eventually teach both, I am interested in the unconventional ways of learning and the ability to use entities that appeal to the masses in order to help explain ideas that are otherwise fairly complex.

This summer I spent most of my theory class contemplating such things, as I tried desperately to grasp the beautiful yet convoluted thoughts of my professor. A man I truly admired for his unyielding propensity to go against the grain in his methods of teaching. He died this week. I feel both privileged and enlightened at having been given the opportunity to learn from someone “whose favorite approach was to take the conventional wisdom about a subject and turn it upside down or otherwise expose it to radical skepticism” and whose students “loved his wide ranging intellect and imagination: his ability to make quick, unexpected connections between theory, literature and popular culture,” as he was described by one of his colleagues.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live inside of his head, but perhaps it wouldn’t hurt for us all to strive for this type of thinking every now and then; to question the norm rather than accepting it, and to always remember to ask the why.

Well, until next time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


So excited for this movie about Allen Ginsberg's controversial poem, Howl...and not just because it's starring James Franco, although that is a perk.

The poem made its debut in 1957. Not long after, an obscenity trial was brought against publisher and fellow poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti for publicizing the piece. However, freedom of speech prevailed, and thus so did the poem.

Documentarian and debuting indie film (co)director of Howl, Jeffery Friedman:
“Fifty years later, Ginsberg’s vision is as relevant as the year he wrote it. It resonates with issues of free speech, government censorship, militaristic empire building, fear-mongering, sexual conformity and the co-opting of religion.”

Comes out at the end of this month. Should be a good one, I mean, who doesn't love a controversy?

Franco as Ginsberg...gotta love those glasses

Read the poem that started it all...(I will warn you, it's quite long).

Howl by Allen Ginsberg


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night

with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,

incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,

Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,

who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,

who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford’s floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi’s, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,

who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,

a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon,

yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,

whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,

who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,

suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and migraines of China under junk-withdrawal in Newark’s bleak furnished room,

who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,

who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,

who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,

who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels,

who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,

who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter midnight streetlight smalltown rain,

who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,

who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,

who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,

who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,

who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,

who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,

who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,

who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,

who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,

who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,

who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may,

who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,

who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman’s loom,

who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,

who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sunrise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,

who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver—joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’ rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,

who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hung-over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemployment offices,

who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of steam-heat and opium,

who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blur floodlight of the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion,

who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery,

who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,

who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,

who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology,

who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish,

who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,

who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,

who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade,

who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried,

who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,

who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,

who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,

who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to each other’s hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,

who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity,

who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,

who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other’s salvation and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,

who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz,

who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave,

who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury,

who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,

and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,

who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,

returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East,

Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,

with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4 A.M. and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination—

ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time—

and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipsis catalogue a variable measure and the vibrating plane,

who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus

to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,

the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death,

and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America’s naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio

with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.


What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!

Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!

Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!

Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!

Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smoke-stacks and antennae crown the cities!

Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!

Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!

Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!

Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!

They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!

Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river!

Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!

Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!

Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!


Carl Solomon! I’m with you in Rockland

where you’re madder than I am

I’m with you in Rockland

where you must feel very strange

I’m with you in Rockland where you imitate the shade of my mother

I’m with you in Rockland

where you’ve murdered your twelve secretaries

I’m with you in Rockland

where you laugh at this invisible humor

I’m with you in Rockland

where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter

I’m with you in Rockland

where your condition has become serious and is reported on the radio

I’m with you in Rockland

where the faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses

with you in Rockland

where you drink the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica

I’m with you in Rockland

where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the harpies of the Bronx

I’m with you in Rockland

where you scream in a straightjacket that you’re losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss

I’m with you in Rockland

where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse

I’m with you in Rockland

where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void

I’m with you in Rockland

where you accuse your doctors of insanity and plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the fascist national Golgotha

I’m with you in Rockland

where you will split the heavens of Long Island and resurrect your living human Jesus from the superhuman tomb

I’m with you in Rockland

where there are twentyfive thousand mad comrades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale

I’m with you in Rockland

where we hug and kiss the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and won’t let us sleep

I’m with you in Rockland

where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse O skinny legions run outside O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we’re free

I’m with you in Rockland

in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night

San Francisco, 1955—1956

Oh how I love the way poetry defies grammar, well...until next time. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What's wrong with a little narcissism?

Eat, Pray, Be article from Brevity's blog

"I find it troubling that so many American women identify with a narration that is so preoccupied with self." - Koa Beck

This was written a couple of months ago in a non-fiction blog I follow and also happen to love, but considering Eat.Pray.Love is one of my favorite books I didn't particularly care for the article, and so, with the movie coming out in 2 weeks I decided to write about it.

It seems as women we are pretty much wired to be more compassionate than our male counterparts. I'm not saying it's impossible for a man to think about someone besides himself, I'm just saying it's more likely he'll put himself first. It's as if there is a breed of selfishness in them that doesn't exist in women - or maybe as women we are taught to repress this feeling?

I know lots of women who admit their greatest dating flaw is that they try to see the best in people; they believe they can somehow change the person they're dating - better them. And a lot of times they do. But at what cost?

All too often it feels like we waste so much time trying to make someone else see the good in themselves, that we lose sight of our own lives. So what's wrong with being a little selfish for a change? Our purpose is not to "fix" other people; and shouldn't we be more worried about fixing ourselves? Because the truth is we all need a little fixing now and again - Don't we?

So, when I hear a story like this one I don't berate Elizabeth Gilbert for her gaul to actually write her journey down and to share it with the world. People can say it comes off as superficial and narcissistic, but shouldn't we applaud her for her courage instead of belittling it?

And as far as Ms. Beck's (ironic it's a not man protesting the book) comment in the article goes, regarding the idea that stories like these do little to address "the societal problems many women face, and will continue to face in their marriages and in their homes," I would have to disagree. I mean, isn't the message Gilbert's story is trying to send exactly the fact that we can and should be happy in our marriages and our homes - and our lives for that matter? It's pretending like we are when we aren't that's the problem. Just a thought...

Well, until next time...go see the movie - August 13th! 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Second Hand Embarrassment and First Impressions

Second Hand Embarrassment - This is a term I stole from a much more clever and witty friend of mine, who often uses this phrase in reference to the stories I tell her about my life, because, well, I'm kind of a walking punch line 98 percent of the time. (It was recently revived during a catch up phone call the other day, and it made me laugh at our secret language of words we have developed during the course of our friendship. There are so many, I've actually started keeping a dictionary). Anyway, I tend to think of myself as that girl in the movie, you know the one you have to cover your eyes to watch, if you can bear to watch at all, because the things that happen to her are just so mortifying, that you actually feel like they are happening to you...THIS is second hand embarrassment. I'm also the type of person who makes situations, that would otherwise not be awkward, awkward, by questioning their awkwardness. (I know, try to keep up). Welcome to my life/brain. BUT. At least I can laugh at Kurt Vonnegut once said about this Apocalyptic time in which we live..."And how should we behave during this Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should also stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot." I would have to agree with Mr. Vonnegut on this one...

So. I got to thinking about this persona I've created for myself and it made me think about character development, a subject that Anne Lamott spends a lot of time with in her book on writing (and life). In it there is a chapter titled False Starts, this is a term she uses to describe a literary mistake in your writing, but it reminded me a lot of first impressions in life. First impressions can be false starts in that you don't always see the person for who they really are. I often wonder about my first impressions - I've gotten mixed reviews - but what I've tended to find is that more often than not first impressions are usually wrong, or at least not entirely accurate. In fact, I'd say most of the time my first impressions of people have really just been a false start to the story I've begun about them in my head. What they are like, what they think, how they feel about me, are usually things I've imagined. Things I have willed into existence within the first hour of knowing someone. And really - how can we be expected to show who we really are in the beginning? I mean, that's the good stuff, isn't it? You have to leave a little to the imagination right? I tend to feel like those people who make the best first impressions to the masses, very rarely hold true to them in the long run. And I'd just really rather not mess with superficial relationships. I don't have time for them, and they don't really bring anything to the table. So what's the point? 

I guess what I'm saying is that I am actively trying to ignore first impressions - to look beyond the acting that occurs in the initial interactions. I want to learn from people and for them to learn from me. It's easy to stay in a comfort zone where I know exactly which role to play to be "liked" or "noticed", but, how boring is that? Basically, I am finding myself more and more intrigued with this world, and the people in it. 

Well...until next time. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy 80th Stephen Sondheim!

Stephen Sondheim, a man responsible for writing lyrics to and composing some of the greatest musicals of all time, (including the lyrics to West Side Story) celebrated his 80th birthday this week. But that wasn't all he was celebrating. In honor of Sondheim and his musical career The Henry Miller theater in New York was renamed The Stephen Sondheim Theatre. While I'd argue Henry Miller still deserves the title as well, it is nothing short of a miracle when an artist of such epic proportions actually lives long enough to see the success of his achievements...

More on this at cute is he in this pic? When the Broadway marquee was revealed...

Interview with Frank Conroy

I like what he says about reading to write...

“I don’t believe in the natural writer. I believe in the natural reader who gradually begins to write. You can’t write independent of literature, so you read, you read, you read, you read, you read, and then you begin to write. A lot of it is mysterious." - Frank Conroy

Agreed. :)

For more of the interview:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A note on non-fiction...

a brief quote from David Shields, during his interview with the LA Times about the ideas and writing of non-fiction, that I really like...

"Memory is a dream machine. Nonfiction isn’t “true.” It’s a framing device to foreground contemplation, or at least it is in the nonfiction I love the most — nonfiction at the highest reaches of literary art. I want to redefine nonfiction upward — taking nonfiction’s limits and reframing them so that nonfiction can be a serious investigation of what’s “true,” what’s knowledge, what’s “fact,” what’s memory, what’s self, what’s other. I don’t want a nonfiction full of “lies.” I want a nonfiction that explores our shifting, unstable, multiform, evanescent experience in and of the world."


Ps- I also want his new book:

Monday, March 22, 2010


Is it sad that I'm already looking forward to this movie? August 13th feels like a long ways away, but I can already guarantee I will be there opening weekend for this one. The movie is based on a non-fiction novel written by Elizabeth Gilbert, a woman in her late thirties who has found herself divorced and alone. (Well not alone exactly. There is her hot younger boyfriend, (played by James Franco in the movie!) but still. She is discontent, as so many of us are, and so she sets out for a little adventure.

Not only is Eat.Pray.Love one of my all time favorite books, I've also recommended it to just about every one of my friends. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do before the movie comes out this summer. I just hope they get it right. 

I read the book on a flight to New York last summer, a trip to visit one of my best friends. I desperately needed a vacation, an escape from anyway, I have the absolute worst luck ever when it comes to traveling. My flight, which was supposed to leave at 7 a.m. that morning, got delayed and then cancelled. At which point I had to spend the day at the airport standing by for the next available flight. 10 a.m. Nope. Full flight. 12 p.m. sorry, full again. 1:30 p.m…Better luck next time.

I finally made it on the flight leaving at around 2:30 in the afternoon only to sit on the runway for almost another two hours. Needless to say I had plenty of reading time. The book put a lot of things into perspective. It's shockingly honest at times, but let's face it; it was exactly what I needed to hear back then. 

So when I finally arrived in New York it was late and my friend had to work the next day, but we decided to go for a quick night cap. We ended up meeting a couple of production guys who were working on the set of; you guessed it, Eat.Pray.Love. How ironic that this was the same story that had been keeping me company all day. We walked over to the little stone street where they were filming hoping to get a glimpse of Julia Roberts; we were told we missed her by about two minutes. Basically I’ve been waiting for the movie to come out ever since.

But back to the book; when I really love what a writer has said or written I like to dog ear the pages, (I think half the pages in this book are dog eared by the way) just in case I ever want to go back and look. You know, like little reminders to myself.

So I thought I would share a few of my favorite words of wisdom from Liz:

"But it wasn't all bad, those few years...because God never slams a door in your face without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies (or however the old adage goes)."

"The ancient Indian Yogic text says...It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection. So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly."

"Love is always complicated. But still humans must try to love each other, darling. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something." (okay so this one is actually her Brazilian lover talking to her, but it's still a good one). 

"People universally tend to think that happiness is a stoke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it." 

…And there are so many more, but really, just read the book. See the movie. She is amazing and basically I want her life...

Now if I could just get someone to send me away to three diverse, incredible, wonderfully beautiful countries and pay me to write about it...I was going to say "maybe someday", but I'm kind of sick of someday...

Well, until next time.

For an update on this and a review of the movie...see my essay on Thought Catalog

Monday, March 8, 2010

Am I completely mad?

Mad Hatter: Am I mad?
Alice: 'fraid're completely mad. You're absolutely bonkers...but I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are...

LOVED this movie! Do yourself a favor and go see it NOW.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pretty Books

This is my friend Sara's blog...funny that she posted these book covers because we were just talking about this in class the other day. To most people a book cover may just be a book cover, but to the artists that design them they are a work of art. A lot of time and thought get's put into the cover to give the prospective reader a sneak peak into the words that lie beneath the surface. After all, we all tend to judge a book by it's cover, in spite of our best attempts not to...

This particular book is on my list of MUST reads...

I can't wait to have Sara design MY book cover. Someday...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So I'm actually kind of shy and awkward...

But sometimes this happens...


Vodka Models? Maybe...

Full Moon

Today there is a full moon. I know its probably silly and superstition but I can't help but believe that this has some kind of effect on life's little happenings down here on earth. Full moons make people act crazy. They make us do things we wouldn't normally do and they mess with our heads. As I'm writing this I'm thinking I may have done something I shouldn't have done. I blame the moon.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about. Today was a weird day. I woke up not to my rude alarm clock at 5:30 a.m., as I have unfortunately become accustomed to, but to something resembling the sound of a helicopter. I quickly brushed this thought aside seeing as it seemed highly unlikely there was a giant helicopter outside my window. I got up to investigate. It was 5:45. (I should have been up 15 minutes ago anyway). Imagine the shock I felt when opening my back door to let my dog outside and finding a very large, very loud helicopter souring over my neighborhood. Now, I am not a morning person. So while you may think this would have enticed me to investigate further. It did not. I was tired and my dog was not cooperating. It's just a helicopter Cooper, it's okay to go outside...apparently he didn't think so.

As I stepped out of the doorway and down the stairs to accompany my dog and hurry up this daily process, I couldn't help but notice the bright lights out of the corner of my eye. It took my brain a few seconds to register exactly what was going on...bright Yes, there was definitely an extremely large fire spreading across the top of the street. I can honestly say I have never seen flames that big, that close and it was rather terrifying.

With the power in our house out and my brain still only half functioning in its non-caffeinated state, I woke up my roommates and we quickly used our phones to send pictures to our parents to ask them what to do. (It's okay, you can laugh). Living in a house of three single girls, with no boys to speak of in close proximity, aside from my 7 lb. maltese puppy, we have no choice but to call for reinforcements every once in awhile. I'm not saying its the most practical solution, but it has proven to produce results in the past. For example, the parents were also notified when we first moved in and didn't know we had to call to have our water and heat turned on; lucky for us the 'rents pulled through and we figured it out before the water actually got turned off, but it did result in some very cold showers. Another time we enlisted the parents expertise was when we thought we broke our garbage disposal. It's kind of a sensitive devise in terms of appliances and it had decided to stop draining. We let this go on for, well to be honest, entirely too long. One day, when I could no longer ignore the fact that our kitchen was beginning to smell a bit like left over gravy gone bad, the parents pulled through by informing us that garbage disposals come with a reset button. I think you get the point. Needless to say I was very proud of my new found plumbing skills.

Now, where was I. Oh yes, so while our parents assured us, via the local morning news, that the fire was contained; we decided to confirm their reports by stepping outside the front door and into the yard to see for ourselves. (I know what you're thinking). The police officers surrounding the street solidified the reports from our parents and we made our way back inside to sit in our dark house with no TV, no internet and no lights to speak of aside from a few candles. And really, this would happen on the one day of the week I leave the house at 6:30 in the morning and don't return until after 10 p.m. Getting ready in the dark is not my forte. This actually makes me think of another funny story that involves me and zippers, but I'll save that one for later.

So off to work I went with half straightened/half curled hair plastered to my head in the best side pony I could manage for what I had to work with; all the while thinking to myself that at least today would be an easy day at work. But alas, I did not take into account the full moon. Within the first 30 minutes of being there, before I could even get my second cup of coffee for the day, my boss called to inform me there was a massive wreck on 35 and he was going to miss his flight to Mexico. Normally this wouldn't be such a big deal except for the fact that ground transportation had already been arranged to pick him up upon his arrival, arranged by someone that spoke Spanish; someone that was not me. Nor did I have the contact information to the transportation services. (Probably a good thing as I'm not entirely sure my Spanglish would have gone over all that well). On top of that he had also managed to pull his achilles' tendon at some point between the car and the airport. This meant I would have to change his flight and hotel for the next day, so he could get home early and get into a doctor. (At least I know the moon gods do not discriminate). On top of my travel agent duties I also had to somehow manage to do may actual job. I don't think I looked up from my desk or away from my computer until around 2. At least the madness was half way over.

Aside from a few glitches here and there, the rest of the day proceeded with somewhat normalcy. In class we discussed Severance, the book we had been reading. A book that fictionalizes the final thoughts of mostly famous, sometimes made up, figures throughout history who all had one thing in common. Death by decapitation. Usually these were done by guillotine, but there was also the occasional ax or accidental decapitation by elevator, car crash, etc.  An appropriate novel for a full moon.

Then comes the thing I did that I shouldn't have done that I'm not going to talk about. So I guess that concludes this day, although the full moon will be out for a few more hours. You never know what could happen.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In Conclusion...

So I have been learning to "read like a writer" via Francine Prose's not so much life changing but definitely helpful book for students studying "the art" of writing fiction. A wonderfully successful author herself, depending on how you define I do by the fact that she has written, and published, several novels and that people actually read them,(oh yeah, she's won some awards as well) finishes the book with a chapter on courage. The courage it takes for someone to write.

Courage. Is writing a courageous act? People have often told me so. In fact when the subject of my blog, in one way or another, comes up in conversation the responses that follow are more often than not something along the lines of,"oh how brave it is to put your thoughts out there for everyone to read" or "wow, that takes guts, I could never do that.", etc.

I have never looked at writing as an act of courage. When I first started writing, it was just something I had to do. An act that was far from courageous or brave but that, if I am to be perfectly honest, was more for my own selfish benefit. It was therapeutic. Writing, sitting in solitude and putting pen to paper. Talking about the world and the way I see it, or creating lives and stories from thin air. This was what writing had always been for me.

However, in reading authors who manage to "write well", and there is most definitely a difference in writing well and just writing for mere pleasure, I see the act of courage in their sentences. I've often felt inspired by these writers and their courage to write for a purpose, an agenda. We all have something to say, but it's the way we say it that matters. There is a raw honesty in the admittance that most of the time, as writers, we only half way know what we're talking about. None of us have all the answers. Perhaps the best piece of advice Prose's book has to offer is this? She tells us to "forget about life...admit that you understand nothing of life, nothing of what you see. Then go out and look at the world."

Well, until next time...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Me & My Etch a Sketch

"I feel like a giant Etch a Sketch that's been shaken clean, but there is a strange beauty in the emptiness..." - Cindy Guidry.

Blocked, Defriended & Deleted...The wonderful world of technology

So it's official. I've been defriended via facebook. And so what? I'll admit, I recently went through and did the exact same thing to over 200 people on my friend list. But here's the difference. I did it because I wasn't really "friends" with any of those people. In fact, I didn't even like some of them all that much. Some of them I didn't even know.

I, on the other hand, was defriened by someone who had recently become significant to me - an influential person in my life. Someone who I had even come to consider, maybe foolishly, a best friend. So it got me wondering if being defriended via facebook is equivalent to being defriended in life? In this case, it may be. I can't be sure, because, unfortunately I cannot predict the future. However either way you look at it, the implications of this act were most definitely meant to hurt me, and guess what? It hurt.

This got me thinking about this whole technology thing and how it factors into our relationships. And in thinking about it like this I can't decide whether to love or hate technology. Some of my most valued friendships are, in fact, only able to significantly prosper by use of technology - but it's not just talking on the phone anymore. With texting, facebook, gchat, twitter and even blogging, there are so many different forms of communication, I find myself having a hard time keeping up. It makes me think of that scene in "He's just not that into you" when Drew Barrymore's character is talking about all the different communication devices you can now get rejected from, and you know what? Drew's right, it's exhausting.

At the same time, my relationships with my best friends wouldn't be the same without these things. I relish the random texts or wall posts I get from friends that always make me laugh no matter what's going on, or the hour long gchat conversations I have in between working. (That is on the rare occasion I even have time to go to the bathroom during work, let alone sign on to my gmail account, but that's beside the point) The simple reality is, none of us can spend our lives talking on the phone all day. Some of us can try; some friends of mine have even gotten pretty close. But in between the calls, it's these little forms of communication that keep me sane. Things that have become such an intricate part of my daily life I can't really imagine living without them.

Of course the flip side to all of this is that these same forms of technology seem to create an almost lack of intimacy when forming new relationships. When you've already established a relationship with someone beyond these methods, you don't really have to talk to that person every day. They are the friends you can go without seeing for weeks, months, maybe even years, and in that moment when are reunited it feels that no time has passed at all. These are the kinds of friendships and relationships I strive for. That's not to say I don't have plenty of acquaintances or people I associate with via on the surface interactions, but for me personally - If I'm going to put my time and effort into getting to know someone - I don't look to these types of technology to develop the relationship for me. And to be honest, I can't really take anyone seriously who tries to formulate a relationship with me in that way.

What am I getting at? Well, a few things, if you'll allow me to speak candidly (as if you had a choice). I prefer human interaction. Or at least a voice on the other end of the line if that's the only option. And while we're on the subject, in terms of potential "romantic" relationships (for lack of a better term), since when did facebook become And who are these girls that whore themselves out via facebook? I read an article about divorced couples who site facebook as the prime reason for their split. Usually because the men had developed relationships with other women that began through the site. I just don't get it? Oh, and btw... no I don't want to facebook chat with you about what bar we can meet up at on Friday night, this does not constitute as a "date"...nor do I want to be hit on through a facebook message. Come on guys; let's try a little harder here. Oh, and things like gchatting and texting are supposed to be in addition to actually picking up the phone and calling - they aren't supposed to replace this form of communication all together. I mean, are they? I certainly hope not. I think that most of us girls would agree that this is not exactly equivalent to sweeping us off our feet.

So in what appears to be a never-ending technological revolution, it makes me wonder how the whole concept of human relationships will continue to change and evolve. Let's just hope we remember the truest form of communication comes from within ourselves...The one that's often realized in a moment of silence, between two people, that feels so strangely natural that you don't even notice it...Otherwise, I'm afraid we may all just turn into robots.

Well, until next time...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Confessions of an Insomniac: The "Epiphanies" that keep us awake

If you've ever had the unpleasant feeling of lying in bed, in the middle of a dark room; in a silently sleeping house, with a tired body and an unquiet mind, you understand what I'm feeling now. And so, without the ability to do much else, and reflecting on the fact, among other things, that I have only blogged once this entire month; I have decided to contemplate things on paper (or computer screen) rather than continuing to torture my brain any more tonight via internalizing.

I really thought I'd kicked this ole insomnia act but then again it doesn't really ask for permission when it decides to reappear, and it always does, at the most inopportune moments. Like when you have to wake up at 6 am the next day and work. Yet here I sit, while the whole world sleeps, (or at least my half) reflecting, analyzing and just overall not sleeping. But, I will admit there is something beautiful in the silence. The god-awful silence that keeps me awake. This is the only time of the day I can really hear myself think with no interruptions. Is it any wonder that I can't get my mind to stop moving? It's been silently shouting all day. So perhaps it can be said that I do some of my best thinking at this hour?

Anyway, on this particular night I happen to be considering a certain quote that was written by a friend of a friend and sent to me by the latter. The email was entitled "Epiphany". I'll regurgitate it here word for word but there are specific pieces in particular I find myself mulling over most...

"I don't understand why people hang on to things that are so hard to keep. if it's so "right" it shouldn't be so difficult to hold onto. I don't understand why people can't let go of the things that hurt them most. Just because you're in pain doesn't mean it's worth fighting for. I promise you that. I don't understand why people say relationships are such hard work. Being good to someone, having that amazing, fairytale relationship will be automatic if your love for each other is natural. "Loving" someone shouldn't be a chore, for you or the other person and it won't be when it's meant to be. Simple. Happy endings do exist. I don't understand why people whine. If it is then it will be. If it's not then it won't. It's as easy as that, really. I promise. So, if you want crappy things to stop happening to you, stop accepting crap. If you tolerate it you lose the right to complain about it."

I've read this quote today more times than I would like to admit and I've come up with a lot of questions and a few conclusions. I think these ideas are something we can all relate to. Who hasn't, at some point in their life, held on to a dying relationship only to continuously find yourself falling short? And really, what is the point? Why do we do it? Is it the fear of starting over, are we afraid to fail or are we just addicted to the roller coaster ride of emotions? Somewhere along the way relationships seem to have become more about a conquest and less about the genuine connection two people can share.

I don't know the author (so I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her) but I admire what she's saying here. The first time I read it I'll admit I had a small "come to Jesus" moment, but there are also a few things I have to disagree with as well. Disagree is probably too harsh a word, It's more like adding my own two cents to this insightful yet simple piece of advice. I for one do understand why people say relationships are such hard work. Because they are! Even the best relationships have problems, because here's the kicker, at the end of the day we're all human and inevitably flawed because of it. But I do believe that there should be a maximum amount you are willing to put up with before you decide it's time to cut your losses and throw in the towel. However, I also know that this is easier said than done. We cling to things that are the hardest to keep because they are also the hardest to let go, usually because we have been holding on to them so tightly for so long.

What we should be doing is looking for these red flags from the beginning. No, relationships are not always a holiday, but I do think they should start out like one. If a relationship feels like work from the beginning, it's not going to get any better as time goes by. And the "honeymoon" stage should last longer than a few months. I have yet to have that "amazing fairytale relationship". I often find myself wondering if it even exists at all. Maybe it's not about the fairytale ending, but just the happy one. I do believe in happy endings, and the fact that mine is out there somewhere, but I don't think we can find it by searching for the fairytale. We have to find it within ourselves first, and stop looking to someone else to make us happy. And yes, we could all probably whine a little less often. Things will fall into place as they are meant to be. Dwelling on a past and what went wrong or hoping for a future that can make everything right will only cause anxiety at best.

I do love the call to action to "stop accepting crap." I think this is something we could all reflect on in our relationships. In the end you are all you've really got. So I for one want to respect myself enough to recognize the crap in my life and to get rid of it. Because I refuse to tolerate anything less than what I know I deserve. And I definitely don't deserve crap.

Well, until next time...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Finding my own inspiration

Today I was reminded of why I want to be a writer. Not that I had forgotten really, but it was more one of those "light bulb going off" moments that jolt you so hard you're forced to pay attention.

After quite a traumatic holiday (the details of which I will politely decide not to offer up here) came tumbling to an end, I spent the day reading, writing and just overall soul searching. I guess sometimes it takes us completely losing our way to really find it. Even if it means finishing up right where we started.(Again)

Anyway, as I was perusing the aisle's of Border's after a long afternoon of therapy via writing, I stumbled upon the memoir section. I typically prefer to read, and write, fiction - mainly because I find that real life tends to disappoint us more than the stories we make up in our heads - I decided to give reality a chance.

I'd recently read Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat.Pray.Love" and the beauty of the truth in her words is something I'll admit has surpassed most of what I've read in fiction. Her book stood displayed on the outside wall of the bookshelves holding the stories of real people, brave enough to put their lives down on paper.

I took this as a sign and made my way into the depths of the truths that lined these bookshelf'd walls surrounding me. There is a quote by Vonnegut that has been a long time favorite of mine and oddly enough is entirely appropriate for how I was currently feeling. It goes like this:

"I am eternally grateful...for my knack in finding in great books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on." - Kurt Vonnegut

It seems that in these hard times there is something guiding us to these such books. And that's what happened to me today. Now sitting here reading Cindy Guidry's "The Last Single Woman in America," I feel like I've found a stranger who knows exactly how I feel, regardless of the fact we have never and probably will never meet. Someone whose words feel like words I could have written myself. And, if only for a moment, my hope is restored in humanity and the fact that maybe we really are all in this together. And maybe everything really will be okay? Maybe.

To reach just one person with my words in this way is what keeps me writing, and ultimately, what keeps me living.

So I wanted to send a thank you out to the universe, and specifically to Cindy Guidry.

Until next time...